Common Mistakes

Do you follow politics?

I was talking to Brilliant B, my co-worker, last night, and I was telling her about how the first time I remember really being interested in politics was when I was 10 years old, and Grant Devine won the election that launched him to the position of Premier of Saskatchewan. This was shortly before our province got screwed six ways from Sunday, coincidentally enough. I remember walking with my best friend, the long-suffering Sarah, and I asked her what she thought of the upcoming election.

She looked at me quizzically, and I said, “Grant Devine is probably going to win, and it’ll be the first time in a long time that Saskatchewan has had a non-NDP premier. But a lot of people think he can really do some good for the province.”

And she said, “what the hell are you talking about?”

And I said, “the provincial election.”

And she said, “nobody cares about that crap.”

And I said, “dude, EVERYONE is talking about it!”

And she said, “name four of our friends who are talking about politics.”

And I said, “wull.”

And she said, “Yeah. You’re a dummy.”

Thus began my interest in politics. I guess technically, I was *interested* in politics before that, but I didn’t pay much attention.

And then for a while in my early 20s, I pretended to Not Care One Whit about politics, but really, I was lying. Secretly, I listened to the radio whenever there was a political campaign on, and when no one was looking, I volunteered for my local MLA at her polling station. Incognito.

I don’t presume to be any kind of political pundit, and I suck at predictions. I think when I make predictions about political things, it’s more wishful thinking than anything else. But here’s my crackpot theory.

Recently, the Saskatchewan Party released a budget. In their budget, they promised to cut all provincial funding for our educational television station, the Saskatchewan Communications Network, or SCN. This station provides a launching pad for many independent and emerging filmmakers and television producers to begin their careers. Many programs that began on SCN have moved on to national, and international production and even syndication. On top of that, SCN provides educational programming (kind of like PBS, but better) and a network through which distance education may be accessed all over the province. The Saskatchewan Party decided to farm out that latter bit to SaskTel, and to just cut support for the rest of the station.

I’m not going to make any judgements about whether this was a good idea or a bad idea, but it was pretty stupid. On top of all of the important things SCN does for the local film and television industry, it employs hundreds of people, provides training and education, and it does so with a fairly small budget (and it was developed by Grant Devine’s Conservatives). Anyway, people all over the province, and indeed in several parts of the country, rallied their support for SCN.

So that move was kind of dumb, in my never-to-be-humble opinion. But there are lots of decisions the government makes that I don’t agree with or that I think are ill-conceived of or ill-thought out. That’s not the Bad Thing, necessarily…not the thing that will harm them the most.

What will harm the SaskParty the most is that they’ve since appeared to back off from, or completely reverse, their decision. This is almost always Bad News for a government, particularly for a new government. It’s the kind of decision that makes a government look desperate. Sure, it *can* make our leaders look like they’re listening to their constituents. And maybe they are. In fact, I’ll give the SaskParty the benefit of the doubt here, and I’ll say they *are* listening to their constituents and that they’re being responsive to the people of Saskatchewan.

But politically, I think this weakens them. It makes them look like they don’t know what they’re doing. Look at the federal Conservatives. They make ALL KINDS of numbnuts decisions, but they don’t often go back on the decisions that they’ve made. They forge dumbly forward, and this gives the impression that they’re confident and capable. Backwards, redneck, jerkfaces…but *confident* backward, redneck jerkfaces. If the ruling party gives the impression that they’re weak or indecisive, it can spell the end for that party politically.

I think it will be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming few months. The SaskParty is being slammed repeatedly by the opposition, because the leader of the opposition (who is very Dwaining, in my opinion, (snicker)) is playing Old School politics…and there are some people around who still remember and appreciate Old School politics. Even if they don’t think Dwain Lingenfelter should be the premier of anything other than assistant mushroom-slicer at some dime-store pizza joint in a border town.

cenobyte
cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

4 Comments

  1. The SK Government still has a $640 million deficit and they saved a whopping $4.8 by scrapping SCN. Ooooo, we saved 0.75% of our deficit… a true WTF moment.

  2. As embarrassing as the waffling is, I hope the issue more often looked to remains the potash revenue shortfall. How a government can intentionally overlook expert advice and then just shrug their shoulders, and make analogies to “Mom and Dad’s kitchen budget” is beyond me.

  3. It is said that a wise man changes their mind. A fool never does.

    The idea that the government couldn’t or shouldn’t change their mind is flawed. This is one of the things that drive me nuts about the media, when a politician changes their minds they get punished for it. Harper changed his mind on Income Trusts and was criticized for it, even though the income trust strategy was being used by corporation for purposes other than it was originally intended and his final decision was likely in the best interests of the country. Although some people were likely less well off due to the decision.

    Now that SCN might be, in some form, saved. The government is being criticized for delaying their decision. In this case the government is not really waffling, or even changing their decision. Merely delaying in the hope of making a few bucks out of the deal. All in all a good decision if one does wish to get rid of an asset/liability. One can of course, question whether or not SCN should be shut down or sold, and one can of course criticize that they did not consider selling it off in the first place as opposed to simply shutting it down. But, once the time to change their mind has been made they should not be berated for it, they should be congratulated.

    1. That’s a good point, Woz. That the government is waiting.

      I think I was trying to get at the government giving the *appearance* of waffling, which is a common criticism of left-wing (or centre-wing) governments by right-wing pundits.

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